It’s a good morning for shares of Big Lots, which rose 15% after the company said its fiscal first-quarter and 2008 earnings would come in better than expected. The close-out retailer expects earnings from continuing operations of 30 cents to 35 cents in the fiscal first quarter and $1.70 to $1.80 for 2008. Analysts’ mean estimates were 26 cents a share and $1.53 a share, respectively.

The news comes on what appears to be a strong opening for equities, even though oil rose above $100 a barrel and the latest report from Automated Data Processing suggests Friday’s payrolls figures will be weaker than the current consensus. Dow futures were lately up 23 points, and S&P 500 futures gained 5.10 points.

Shares of BJ’s Wholesale Club were up 3.1% after the warehouse retailer said quarterly net income more than quadrupled to $50.2 million, or 80 cents a share, amid year-earlier charges. meanwhile, Costco Wholesale was down 18 cents to $62.21 after the company’s fiscal second-quarter earnings were in line with Wall Street forecasts.

Shares of Canadian Solar were up 9.5% after the company said it swung to a profit in the fourth quarter due to rising revenue. The solar power cell manufacturer, whose factories are located exclusively in China, reported net income of $5.54 million, or 20 cents a share. Revenue rose more than fivefold to $127.5 million. However, the bad weather in China will hurt revenue in the first quarter, the company said.